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Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › Mama hen plucking chicks feathers

Mama hen plucking chicks feathers

Roberta K.
user 10948851
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 623
Well, we have a hen that we call Crazy Mama because she's crazy. We gave her some chicks to raise when she was broody and she kept pecking them. Then she went broody again and before i knew it she had been sitting on eggs so we let her finish because it seemed to make her content and less crazy. She did really well the first week and now that they have little feathers she keeps on picking them up and tossing them using these little feathers and they are becoming bald on both sides. I hate to separate them because after a few throws she usually calms down and let's them sit under her. Happens at least twice a day that i've seen.

Anyone see this happen? She barely has any feathers but i though she was being plucked by other chickens or molted. But after many months separated from the other chickens she still hasn't grown them back so i wonder if she did it herself and thinks that the featherless look is normal and is trying to make her chicks look the same way.... I've been giving her high protein started food but she is still very bald. I'll post a picture soon.
Laura B.
Group Organizer
Norco, CA
Post #: 597
oh no Roberta, sorry about your poor chicks... I have never seen that happened before... it's such bad behavior and so hard to break! once they learned to pluck feathers (which I understand is so high in protein), there is little to break the behavior... it's free and easy food for them to get!
I have had no good results, no success at all in trying to reverse that behavior... these chicks are so little, she ends up killing them if she continues... because once they pluck enough feathers and blood follows, she will start pecking directly to get blood...

Hope someone has some magic solution to the feather plucking... and would be eager to try anything new, except for the thing you put on their nose that impairs their vision... falls into my 'border line cruel method' definition

goodl luck,
keep us posted
Laura B.
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 136
Roberta, if it were me, I would take the chicks from her. It sounds like she is just not a good mother, and there is probably nothing you are going to be able to do to change that. Don't wait until she kills a chick. Or trains her chicks to pick feathers.

There will be a few days of crying, probably both with mom and the chicks, and then everyone will settle down. But the chicks will be safe.
Roberta K.
user 10948851
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 626
Roberta K.
user 10948851
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 680
Just wanted to update this thread. The chicks seemed to need a mommy so I let them stay together and after a couple of weeks she stopped throwing them and then they settled into a normal relationship. They are a little more skittish but now one of them will sit on our shoulder if she's sleepy. The mommy has grown back her feathers and is laying again. She and the chicks show no evidence of feather plucking or eating so it turned out ok. I think she was trying to move them out of the way...maybe....?
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